Voices Of Youth

Time to prioritise mental health

It was sad to read that the suicide rate of teenagers last year was twice as high as the year before, and the highest in 15 years ("A black plaster, to talk about feelings"; Sunday, and "Teen suicides 'highest in 15 years but overall rate falls'"; July 26).

However, it is not surprising.

Our system has been placing too much emphasis on academic results and neglecting students' mental health.

Many have been taught from a young age to ignore their emotions and feelings, and to think more about their studies.

This culture leads Singaporeans to often dismiss mental illness as "just having a bad day" or being "sad".

We must acknowledge the fact that school pressure has made some students psychologically distressed, and start prioritising the mental health of students.

Our schools are great at teaching mathematics and science, but we are not educating students enough about mental health.

Schools should introduce programmes that teach students how to deal with stress and negative thoughts, cognitive behavioural therapy, self-care tips, and how to identify friends with symptoms of mental illness.

More intervention to help troubled students is also needed.

Such programmes can significantly improve students' emotional well-being.

It is time we filled this major gap in our education system.

Ho Jo Yin, 16, Secondary 4 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Time to prioritise mental health'. Print Edition | Subscribe